A bit late now I guess but Happy New Year!
I wanted to write a bit of an update on me and how my back is doing now I’m 3 1/2 years post op.
Flexibility wise my back is the best it’s been since surgery and bending to pick things up off the floor, rolling over in bed and things like that no longer seem to be an issue for me, which if you’d told me that at around 3 months post op I’d never have believed you! It seems that I can now bend quite normally and I notice my metalwork less and less now despite being fused to L3, which is encouraging.
The only annoyance for me now is my shoulder, which I still get quite a bit of pain and discomfort in, partly because I have a winged scapula and the shoulder blade is not in the correct place. I’m not sure if this is down to my residual thoracic curve or as a side effect of the surgery or a bit of both. I went to the doctor mid last year about pain in my shoulder and lower back (which is not as bad, only if I’m on my feet alot) and she prescribed me Naproxen and referred me to the physio again.
I started taking the Naproxen for a while but found it didn’t really do anything so, for now, I don’t take any painkillers as 1. I don’t like taking them and 2. I haven’t really found a painkiller that does the job and doesn’t have any horrible side effects.
The physio I saw late last year was quite useful, she basically said the reason I get pain in my back and after I’ve been to the gym for example, is that as I have the metalwork in there, my muscles have essentially become “lazy” and some of them aren’t working as they should as they rely on the metalwork to do the work for them. So if I go to the gym for example, I end up using more muscles than I should do to over compensate for the ones that are being a bit lazy, which gives me more pain and achyness the next day. I suppose it makes sense and I never thought of it like that. She showed me some simple exercises to do to “activate” some of my muscles again which I found very useful, although I must admit I didn’t have the time to do them as religiously as I should have done.
As it was an NHS phsyio, they can only see me for 6 weeks at a time and then discharge me even although I’ll never be “cured.” I think this time it was worthwhile going though, although no doubt I’ll be back again at some point! I think there should be a different system for people with long term conditions, as we need really need long term physio and support rather than continuously having to go back, see a new physio each time and be discharged again.
She did recommend a pilates DVD for people with long term back pain, so my plan now is to try that and see how I get on. It’s so hard to know what the best exercises are when you have spinal fusion as you want to keep your muscles strong but you don’t want to do damage or make any pain you have any worse. I wanted to start going to the pilates classes at my gym but I just know I won’t be able to do half of the moves and will just end up feeling embarrased.
Anyway, I’ll update how I get on with the DVD, hopefully it will be of benefit to me!